Background


The Cedar Dance Theatre Company was founded in 1974 by Choreographer/Artistic Director Janet Randell, with a background both in contemporary dance/ballet and the academic world. The Cedar Dance Theatre Company (formerly Cedar of Lebanon Dance Company) emerged in the early 70’s as one of the leading small to medium scale professional dance companies, and is now one of Randell's communication outlets for her unique and original choreography.


The Cedar Dance Theatre Company has performed in many theatres and venues in London and throughout the UK. It was the first dance company to pioneer the performance of professional dance in churches and cathedrals throughout the UK and to encourage liturgical and community church dancing as a social, spiritual and therapeutic outlet.


One of Randell’s aims for the company was to make contemporary dance/modern ballet accessible to a wide audience. Following a series of successful performances in London and the Edinburgh Festival, The Cedar Dance Theatre Company was invited to use Toynbee Hall, an ideological cultural and social centre in the East End of London, as its base in the early to mid seventies. The Company was following in the time-honoured footsteps of the legendary choreographer Anthony Tudor, whose first dance company rehearsed and performed at Tonybee Hall years earlier, before Tudor moved to America to work with American Ballet Theatre. Janet Randell shared the same aspirations as Anthony Tudor, who rejected the idea of ballet as an elitist spectacle, and delighted in taking dance to ordinary people.


The Cedar Dance Theatre Company was subsequently established in the crypt of the world famous St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, Central London for the next sixteen years. On the doorstep of the theatre world and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, yet working alongside one of the nation’s most famous centres for the poor and socially deprived, Randell rehearsed here with the company, gave classes, and choreographed dances for London and UK tours. She also used the crypt as a venue for performing experimental workshops and works in progress in the converted crypt theatre, whilst continuing performances in theatre venues.


The Cedar Dance Theatre has been rehearsing recently at The Place, London, home of London Contemporary Dance School and Richard Alston Dance Company, and in the West Midlands.


Repertoire Description

Randell has drawn inspiration originally for her choreography for The Cedar Dance Theatre Company from many sources, some of which were influenced by her extensive post-graduate research in dance history, including dancing in churches, liturgical dance and its spiritual significance throughout church history, the Bible, allegorical symbolism, Christianity, literature, art and music, as well as from her observations of social and personal issues.


Latest Addition to Repertoire: Passing Moments


Labyrinth

Randell devised Labyrinth from her study of certain paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and the mediaeval celebrations for Easter Day at the Cathedral of Auxerre. On Easter Day the clergy performed a dance following the pattern of the labyrinth while singing a hymn about Christ’s death and rebirth. The centre of the labyrinth painted on the stage floor,  represents the turning point standing for death and rebirth.


Performed in London and at the Edinburgh Festival, Labyrinth was produced while Randell was researching at The British Library, London, and is now sparking interest through an awakening awareness of the spiritual and Christian significance of the labyrinth in the 21st century.


The Scotsman Review

“ ‘Labyrinth’ was a moving piece of modern ballet, combining a subtle use of colour, rhythm and precision by the chorus which represents the path which leads mankind through the jungle of vice and temptation.... Miss Randell’s unusual and refreshing approach to ballet allows one to see this art form in a new fascinating light.”

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Foxes in the Vineyard

Randell was profoundly moved by an award winning modern radio play called Foxes in the Vineyard, and adapted it with composer Peter Monk to produce a sound/ music score to which she choreographed a modern dance. Set against the harmonious, perfect and erotic relationship between man and woman as portrayed in the Song of Songs in The Bible, the dance follows the trials and tribulations of a modern relationship between husband and wife, and through dance imagery deals unflinchingly with the issue of infidelity, divorce, separation and abortion.


Daily Telegraph

“ ‘Foxes in the Vineyard: Variations on a Theme by Solomon’ is a strange sounding title for a ballet, but it aptly suggests the complex structure of the new work by Janet Randell. She showed striking intelligence in bringing together two parallel themes - the ideal relationship described in the Song of Solomon and a tortured modern marriage enacted in a radio play by Rob Cochrane. Sometimes the two themes alternated, sometimes they intermingled, and the modern theme was presented partly with the aid of flashbacks.”


The Scotsman Review

“The battle for the souls and minds of the modern couple was waged with infinite delicacy and feeling by this vibrant company.”


Psycho Pieces

Performed by The Cedar Dance Theatre Company in London and in the UK.

The Line That Goes for a Walk

Re-staging of Psycho Pieces and performed also by the Irish National Ballet under this title.


Paul Klee (1879 - 1942) was born in Switzerland and spent most of his life in Germany before being banished by the Nazis in 1933. He painted not only humorous pictures and line drawings but also sombre paintings reflecting the turbulence of Nazi Germany. The title of the dance is taken from Klee’s description of a drawing as a ‘line which goes for a walk along a piece of canvas’, which develops into various characters taken from his drawing and puppet masks made for his young son Felix. With so many complex themes, Randell started to choreograph this ballet with its own internal rhythms, and then collaborated with various composers for the final score.


The Times St Andrews Festival Diary

“The daringly experimental “Psycho Pieces” of the Cedar Dance Theatre, choreographed by their artistic director, Janet Randell, quite bowled me over. Here was a further British premier, one deserving of the most resounding encouragement both for the imaginative nerve of its conception which reaches deep into the mind and art of the inspired artist Paul Klee, and for the company’s balletic energy and virtuosity.”


The Cork Examiner

“Choreographer Janet Randell is also responsible for the evening’s most exciting work called ‘The Line That Goes for a Walk.’ It is based on interpretations of Swiss expressionist painter Paul Klee - this audaciously innovative piece. Set to a marvellous primordial rhythm especially composed for the dance, it is testament of brilliant collaboration between music and dance... spectacular choreography.”


Daily Telegraph

“Paul Klee is one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century with strong feeling for dancing, music and the theatre. Now, in “The Line that Goes for a Walk”, a ballet created by Janet Randell for the Irish National Ballet dancing a season at the Everyman Playhouse in Cork, Klee’s complex life-long artistic development has been given a fascinating choreographic shape on the stage.

The title of the ballet is taken from a famous saying by Klee, and all thirteen scenes - inspired by Klee paintings and the development of certain themes which meant a great deal to him - have the title of his paintings.


Here, for once, is a ballet, which shows a superb fashion of all the elements of the theatre. The masks designed by Pippa Cleator (based on masks designed by Klee) become more and more mysterious and compelling and her simple and constantly changing costumes evoke just the right mood for each of the scenes. The lighting by Mike Blair is no less admirably attuned to the ideas of the choreographer, and so is the music - daringly played on percussion, flute and various strange instruments, with a major contribution from Alain Barker.

All credit to Joan Denise Moriarty, director of the company, for commissioning such a complex, original and demanding work.”

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